United States Senate failed to block the Trump administration’s sale of USD $23 billion advanced fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates.
Mr Trump had issued a formal threat to veto congressional efforts to block the planned weapons transfer, which is tied to the UAE’s normalisation of ties with Israel under the “Abraham Accords”.
Two procedural votes failed to gain a majority of the 100-member Senate, effectively stopping the effort to block the sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets and Reaper drones.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the resolutions seeking to block the arms sale fell far short of the two-thirds support that would be needed to overcome a presidential veto.
“It’s a little baffling to suggest that, now of all times, a protest gesture with no chance of obtaining a veto-proof majority is a valuable use of the Senate’s time,” McConnell said in Senate floor remarks.
Backers of the sale described the UAE as an important US partner in the Middle East. Opponents criticised the UAE for its involvement in the war in Yemen, a conflict described by the United Nations as one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
The Trump administration told Congress on November 10 that it had approved the sale to the UAE of weapons made by General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp.
The deal includes the F-35, the world’s most advanced fighter jet; more than 14,000 bombs and munitions; and the second-largest sale of US drones to a single country.
The White House said the sales directly support US foreign policy and national security objectives by “enabling the UAE to deter increasing Iranian aggressive behaviour and threats” in the wake of its recent deal with Israel.